News in Brief

Performance tracking, big data feedback and a nuclear landmark

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Obama team reports on quarterly goals

Acquisitions and IT figured prominently in the refresh of the Performance.gov site with news of administration accomplishments in the third quarter of fiscal 2014. The update offered Shaun Donovan, the newly installed Office of Management and Budget director, the chance to tout the "data-driven, implementation-focused approach" that underlies the agency and cross-agency priority goals.

The launch of 18F at the General Services Administration and the Digital Service team at OMB went a long way to advancing the Smarter IT Delivery goal. Next up is for the CIO Council to work on creating new IT workforce training opportunities, and to have all 24 CFO Act agencies have at least one digital service expert, brought on under direct hire authority, by the first quarter of fiscal 2015. Key metrics to watch for under the goal are the percentage of projects completed within 10 percent of budget and within 10 percent of delivery schedule.

On the open data front, the administration launched a dashboard at Data.gov for tracking agency progress in meeting data-release goals. The dashboard tracks each agency's inventory of datasets and associated metadata, and will be important for measuring delivery goals that are on the horizon, including a requirement that agencies include datasets released under Freedom of Information Act request be included in public data catalogs. There is also a new template for agencies to use for organizing data jams and meet-ups for government data users.

NSF seeks feedback on big data innovation hubs

The National Science Foundation is looking for some big ideas about big data, GCN reports.

According to a notice in the Federal Register, NSF seeks input from all parts of the big data ecosystem on the formation of new Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs that will generate the kinds of activities and partnerships established by the National Big Data R&D Initiative over the past three years. The hubs would also stimulate, track and help sustain new regional and grassroots partnerships around big data.

Nuclear reactor named historic landmark

After producing neutrons for research for almost 50 years, a nuclear reactor at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been designated a nuclear historic landmark by the American Nuclear Society.

"This designation from the ANS recognizes [High Flux Isotope Reactor's] role in the history of the nuclear age, but it also speaks to the excellence of its design and operation," ORNL Director Thom Mason said. "HFIR remains one of the world's most capable reactor-based neutron science, radioisotope production and materials irradiation facilities, and we expect that to continue for many years."

According to the lab, the HFIR was dreamed up back in the 1950s to make transuranic isotopes, or heavy elements, such as plutonium and curium. These days, the Tennessee reactor is a DOE Office of Science User Facility and one of the world's sole sources of the radioisotope californium-252, used in industry and medicine.

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